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Holy Land: Israel renews apartheid-style marriage law

Source: EI/Adalah

Israel has renewed the 'Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law' which prohibits Israeli citizens who marry Palestinians from the occupied West Bank or Gaza Strip, or nationals from several other regional states, from living with their spouse in Israel. Originally passed as an emergency measure in 2003, the provision has been renewed annually ever since.

"The law affects tens of thousands of Palestinian families on both sides of the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank, preventing Palestinians from legally moving into Israel to join their spouses," according to Adalah, an advocacy group that has mounted unsuccessful court challenges to the law.

Zvi Hauser, head of the foreign affairs and defence committee of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, said the renewal was justified by Israel's recently passed Nation-State of the Jewish People law, which legal advocates say violates international prohibitions on apartheid.

In intent and effect the Israeli citizenship law is no different to the laws that used to exist in apartheid South Africa to prevent miscegenation, the "interbreeding" of people of different races, and to control where Black people could live - laws such as the Group Areas Act and the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act.

While Israeli law does not ban marriages outright, it does effectively prevent Israeli citizens and Palestinians from exercising their right to family life.

Israel initially justified the marriage law on the grounds of 'security'. Human Rights Watch rejected this, in 2012, saying that the "sweeping ban" without "any individual assessments of whether the person in question could threaten security, is unjustified" and "imposes severely disproportionate harm on the right of Palestinians and Israeli citizens to live with their families."

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister at the time, admitted the true purpose of the law in 2005, saying: "There is no need to hide behind security arguments. There is a need for the existence of a Jewish state."

The racist demographic purpose of the law was reaffirmed in 2012 when the Israeli high court threw out Adalah's challenge with a majority of 6-5. The presiding judge, Asher Grunis, said at the time: "Human rights are not a prescription for national suicide," echoing the words of South Africa's apartheid Prime Minister Daniel Malan, who said in 1953 that "equality… must inevitably mean to white South Africa nothing less than national suicide."

"For many couples, who just want to be together, and lead a normal family life, the only solution is to try to emigrate," Sarah, a Christian Palestinian from the West Bank who married a Jewish doctor from Tel Aviv told ICN. The couple now live in Toronto, Canada. "It is so sad because our parents and our children have never met," Sarah said. "We dream one day of returning home. But at the present time that is impossible. Our children are growing up as Canadian citizens."



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